I was in the lab with one of my classes and we were wonderfully and joyfully perusing Wonderopolis’ Wonder of the Day, when one of my students turned abruptly in his chair to ask me a question and (in the process) hit his funny bone.  He had the classic reaction: pained expression, right hand over the left elbow, and rubbing furiously as if that would make the pain disappear

I completely felt his pain.  As I made my way over to encourage him that the pain would soon go away, he wailed, “Ms. Brasdis!  Why is it called a funny bone?  This is totally not funny!”

All I could do was smirk at his reaction and say, “You know, Brandon?  Your suffering has inspired me to wonder.  And for that, I thank you.”  I then let him know that I would immediately research the wonder, write a blog about it, and let him know the answer.

And though this entry may not be very funny, it may prove to be pretty useful information the next time someone you know comes in contact with their funny bone.

Courtesy of KidsHealth.org

 

 

I was pretty shocked to find out that the notoriously known funny bone isn’t a bone at all.  That little piece of information completely blew my hypothesis out of the water and at that point, I became more curious as to how the funny bone got its name.  I searched through some medical sites, but to no avail found any information that was very helpful…or that I (a layman to medical terms) could understand.  So, I went to KidsHealth.org and found a pretty basic answer.  From there, I was able to piece together an educated answer, to which you will find below. Enjoy!

Like the picture on the above says, the funny bone isn’t a bone, but a nerve. It’s called the ulnar nerve and it runs from your neck to your fingers and it controls muscle movement in your forearm and hand, while helping our pinky finger and ring finger to sense the world around us.  Unlike other nerves that are covered by bone and fat, the ulnar nerve is almost completely unprotected.  It runs between the small space between two bones in our elbows, where only a thin layer of fat and skin stands between the nerve and any piece of hard furniture.

 

Courtesy of inkjot.wordpress.com

And as we all know, once the nerve is hit, the pain is hardly a laughing matter.

I know, I know… I haven’t answered the question yet, but I’m getting there.  Hold your horses!  Oh wait…that was a previous post.  :)

Anyway, the two bones that the ulnar nerve runs between is called the Ulnar bone and the Humerus bone.

When you hityour ulnar nerve, it mostly bumps against the Humerus bone causing that one-of-a-kind electrifying sensation down your arm and in your fourth and fifth finger.  The name “Funny Bone” eventually derived from people in past centuries explaining to others that they hit their humerus bone and like a game of “Telephone,” the word was mistaken for humorous bone and was, thus, aptly nicknamed.

But wait!

There’s more!

Not only is the funny bone a medical phenomenon, but it is also a semi-popular idiom derived from the feeling you get when you hit your funny bone.  You may have heard it said by someone before: “That really tickled my funny bone.”  What people mean when they say that is that they found something that struck them as funny or amusing.  Coincidentally,  many Funny Bone Comedy Clubs have sprung up across the nation, with one of them located in Virginia Beach (20 minutes away from where I live).

So, whether you’re torn between laughing and crying or ready for a laugh a minute (or a barrel of laughs), you now know the full spectrum of the origin of the funny bone.

 

Thank you for reading and remember to always wonder!

<3 Sam

 

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